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Name: Guardianship of Ann S.
Case #: C049915
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 3 DCA
Opinion Date: 04/13/2006
Subsequent History: Review Granted 7/19/06: S143723

Mother’s parental rights were terminated under Probate Code section 1516.5, which permits the court to declare a minor free from parental custody where the parent child has been in the custody of a guardian for more than two years and the child would benefit from being adopted by the guardian. Mother challenged the termination, contending that section 1516.5 is an unconstitutional infringement on her rights as a parent because it allows termination without a showing of unfitness. The appellate court rejected the argument, finding that a parent’s liberty interest in the custody of his child is not without limits. A parent must work expeditiously to regain custody of a child who is in a guardianship, not “park” him indefinitely until it is convenient to reclaim him. Section 1516.5 is narrowly tailored to achieve the state’s compelling interest in providing a stable home for the child. The statutory scheme provides due process for the parent. Further, the trial court did not err by applying section 1516.5 retroactively.